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Seeing You Again



Today I'm going to see you again for the first time in a long while.

I didn't mean for it to be so long this time, but after I've gone longer than I should, I start to feel bad because I waited, and then I just put it off even longer. I postpone at all costs that moment where I'm standing in front of you again, and I have to confront my guilt and be apologetic that I took so long getting to you. Those are always the hardest things- mostly because they are the sincerest emotions I can feel- and after that it gets much easier. It was always easy with you, and if I can get past my own issues, I know it always will be.

I remember the day we first spoke. Actually, it was already night by then, and you were picking up dinner at my family's restaurant on that early evening in February. It was slow, and I was all alone at the front counter. I can even remember what you ordered, and so can you since we have talked about it so many times. I recognized you from school, but didn't know your name until you introduced yourself. You were so forward and focused on me, it was like I was cornered at my own workplace! I was just a shy girl that barely spoke to anybody outside my small group of friends and my family, but something about you was different. I could talk to you, and before I knew it, your food order was in boxes and sacks, ready to take back to your family, but you and I were in our own little world. After the third baleful glance from my uncle, walking in and out of the kitchen for no reason other than to shake me loose of our conversation, I finally wished you a good meal and watched you pull away from the restaurant in your pickup truck.

I know now that you really didn't like Vietnamese food, but that didn't stop you from coming back a few days later to ask for my name again. You claimed that after all that talking, I never told you, but I'm sure that I did, and you just forgot. From the moment I reminded you up until this last time we spoke, not a single conversation of ours ever went by that didn't start with my first name. My family quizzed me about the tall white kid boy that was showing up in the restaurant more and more often. I told them you enjoyed the food, but they knew better.

I'd never dated anybody, even though I was almost seventeen, and I knew that they would never approve of me dating a white, no matter how nice you were. We started to each lunch together at school, which sent my friends so atwitter that it was less than a week before that detail got back to my mom and dad, prompting another family discussion. I told them we were just good friends. I had to promise them it was nothing more, and in my family you don't break promises. But, there was also no breaking our connection, even though we didn't know it was so strong at the time.

I was such a black sheep in my family. I enjoyed the same music, television, and movies that my family enjoyed- we would pick up the new DVD imports at the Asian supermarket on Sundays, then stay up half the night watching them. But, I also enjoyed things they had no idea about, or the slightest bit of interest in experiencing. I loved rock music, I adored American movies, and I wanted to be a painter. We spent hours in your den, watching movies, surfing the web together. We had so many inside jokes that it was like speaking in code when we were together with other people, but that wasn't very often. We came from two different worlds which never mixed.

Even so, it was like we were made to find each other eventually, and that feeling was something we admitted to each other after we kissed for the first time. I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest, and that my stomach would never quit doing somersaults. It was the most amazing high I've ever experienced, and I've experienced more than a few kinds since then. Nothing compared, or ever will, to that moment. From then on, we spent time together whenever we could. It wasn't easy: my parents were very suspicious that we were more than friends, but I'd promised them we weren't, so they let me go with you on some nights after we closed the restaurant, or on Sunday afternoons. You were my escape, and you were always willing to whisk me away to that different world where you lived: of perfectly manicured lawns, of expensive, shiny cars that weren't tricked out with gold trim or painted gaudy colors, and of parents that provided for you, but mostly gave you the space to be your own person.

One summer Sunday, we were in your den, as usual, hiding from the mid-day heat. A movie was playing, but we were paying attention to nothing but each other. Your parents had gone shopping for the afternoon, and I didn't have to work that day at all. We had all the time in the world. Do you remember that day? After all that's happened with both of us, I'd like to think you'll remember it forever just like I will.

With every piece of clothing you slipped off of my body, I surrendered that much more of myself to you. Your hands were so gentle on my bare skin; you had touched me before, but always under clothes. Now we were slowly coming into full view of each other. We kissed and rolled around on the floor together, entwined, with only your underwear keeping us from being completely nude with one another. I felt your bulge pushing against my legs, and then between them as we moved and pressed against each other, only a thin layer of cotton between us.

We were in the midst of a continuous kiss when I felt you push your briefs down your legs, allowing your shaft to flop free and rest against my skin. It felt twice as hot as any other part of us, a giant hard poker that excited and scared me at the same time. I'd never taken it in my hand, maybe I preferred the mystery, though with it writhing and searching between my legs, rubbing on and across my moist opening, the mystery was disappearing quickly.

I gasped as you pressed between my folds, holding it there for just a moment, letting us both savor how vulnerable I was, and what was about to happen between us. You looked me in the eye, and before I could react, I was crying out as you broke through, sending a flash of pain through my body. I felt so full. It burned, and it ached, and you pushed more and more of yourself into me with each slow stroke. We didn't plan to have sex, nor had we ever even once talked about it; it just happened.

I'll never forget being on my back with you on top of me, kissing my lips, then my neck, and finally my ear, whispering into it, while you held your entire length inside of me. The discomfort of being stretched deeper than my body was really made for was no match for the closeness I felt toward you. I wasn't alone anymore, and even after you took me home, I wouldn't feel alone again for a long time. The pain subsided, the tightness only made it more pleasurable with all of my juices coating your cock, and I could feel our rhythm building to an end. You held me just a little tighter, and thrust just a little harder, and then with a groan, you relaxed, though I could feel your cock pulsing between my walls as you came inside me. I never wanted you to leave my body; I wanted us to lay together, connected, until the end of time. It was the perfect way to lose my virginity, I still never think of it without smiling.

We were different people around each other. I could be outspoken and mischievous with you, and you could be sensitive and thoughtful with me, and both were our little secret. It wasn't all healthy: we had a bad habit of not using protection, which meant I had to sweat it out waiting for every period to come, and while I would go out with you when my parents thought I was with my friends, yours didn't mind us seeing each other, but that didn't stop you from keeping me out for hours past your curfew, forcing me to go entire weekends without seeing you.

Our little world caved in on the night your parents went to my family's restaurant. They wanted to tell my parents how much they enjoyed having me around, and that they wanted to meet the family of whoever it was that their son was so crazy about. What they ended up doing was inspecting my cell phone's texts to confirm what they had been told, which earned me an emotional lashing that I never recovered from. My family warned me: the next time I was seen with you, I would be fired from the restaurant and on my own. So, I did the only thing I could do for me and my family- I tried to stay away from you.

You knew what had happened, but still you couldn't accept it anymore than I could, so we got creative. Sometimes we skipped class and fucked in the mechanical yard between school buildings, and sometimes we would tell our parents we were going to the school basketball game, only to spend two hours in the cab of your truck. I couldn't wait to shimmy out of my pants, and climb into your lap, then stay there long after we were finished. Sometimes we did nothing but sit close, talking while we stared out the window through the fogged glass. Somehow, you always knew which one would satisfy me best, even after not speaking to me for a week or more.

Prom came along, and I was invited by a nice Vietnamese boy in my classes. My parents had always loved him, and I do admit he was cute, and he was crazy about me- but he wasn't you. I had no choice but to accept, and a few days later I heard you invited somebody, too. I don't know if you'll ever know what it felt like to see you in your tuxedo, laughing with your friends, with your arms around another girl. I danced, arms draped over my date's shoulders and head against his chest as we swayed back and forth to a love song, and nobody would ever know that I was dying inside.

That summer you got ready for college, working as much as possible to save up, and I started taking night classes at the local community college, working days so I could get away in time. Even if we weren't forbidden from seeing each other, we still would've found very little time. We emailed, we texted, and barely missed chances to meet up at least a half-dozen times, each time hurting just a little more.

The weekend before you left, you texted me to meet you at a nearby Holiday Inn. You gave me the room number and told me to find a way to get there, no matter what. We laid naked together for hours on end, having sex, talking, holding each other, and having sex again. You gave me a set of oil paints and brushes- I'd been saving up to get them myself, which you knew- and told me to follow the things that made me happy. Nothing was harder than leaving that room the next morning. I knew things were again going to change forever, and I had to let go. I wish I could've found a way to let go.

You joined a fraternity, made new friends, and did well in your classes, though some of them gave you trouble. I worked at the restaurant, where every day was the same for months on end. I started to date that same nice Vietnamese boy, and around the time you stopped coming home once a month, he became the second sex partner, and the first drug provider, of my life.

Things got blurry, and I know I'll never sort out everything that happened starting then. My family wasn't into drugs at all, but that didn't stop them from recognizing what it looked like for their daughter and niece to be on them. I was fired and told to prioritize my life. I called you that night, and it went to voice mail. By the time you called back, I was honestly too high to speak, so I chose not to. We argued, sometimes about important things, sometimes about nothing at all, then we'd go weeks without speaking. Not a day passed that I didn't think about you, though.

I never did get my job at the restaurant back, and I never did kick the drugs. I was asked to leave my family's home, but a guy I bought drugs from offered have me share his apartment with him, so I stayed on my feet. I had my own bedroom, bathroom, and no family to watch over me. I couldn't wait until that summer, when you would return and maybe occasionally we could meet up just like we used to. But, you never came home that summer; you found a job in the town where you went to college. I know you tried to be there for me however you could from afar, and I still feel bad that I usually didn't return that favor very well. There's nothing I wouldn't do to take your call right now, to make up for even one of those dozens of times when I would just let you go to voice mail. My addictions and my depression weren't things I wanted to share. I always wanted to show you the best side possible, but my best was terrible by then.

I took work doing things that would break your heart if you knew, and one night something truly horrific happened to me in the process. I called you a few hours afterward, finally able to speak, and you immediately drove six hours straight so you could get to me. I never told you the specifics, and you didn't ask. All you did was make me feel safe and loved in our own little world, just like you always did. You stayed three days, handling everything from the police to cooking dinner, then finally you said you had to get back to take some tests. To keep you from feeling so bad, I told you I'd be fine without you- and I meant it- but 'fine' is a relative term.

I hit rock bottom a few months later, getting arrested with nobody to turn to, so I called you. Somebody else answered, a drunk friend of yours I would guess. I asked for you, shouting over the noise of a party on the other end, but he said he didn't know where you were. I don't think I ever told you about that until now; we fought so much about the way I was living already, I didn't want to risk losing you completely out of frustration with me.

I'm so sorry that it was me that ended up walking away from what we had, unable to face down the truth in what you were saying. I think it's a sign of how close we were that you always knew how badly I was living just by the way I sounded on the phone. You asked what I'd been up to, what I was doing, and I lied through my teeth because I was too ashamed to admit the truth. You were only doing what caring people do, and it scared me.

A month turned into two, and then a year. I went to jail again, and when I came back out a month later, I just knew a message would be waiting from you, wondering how I was doing, but there wasn't. The nice Vietnamese boy was replaced by a not-so-nice black one, then a Korean one, then another black one, each one keeping me under their thumb while knowing and caring nothing of who I was deep inside. I cursed you for showing me happiness, then disappearing, as if it was all your fault. I hoped you would come back into my life, but the day I saw your wedding announcement in the newspaper, I did away with those thoughts, too. They only hurt me worse, and I much preferred being numb to being hurt. I was used to numb, but I never got used to the pain, and nothing hurt worse than staring down a life so far away from you.

One night, still rolling from the tail end of an ecstasy high, I tried to call you. I wanted you to know that I wished you happiness, and that I wouldn't trade what we shared all that time for anything in the world. A female answered, and I lost the nerve to ask for you. I never tried to call again.

Ten men became thirty, and drug using turned to drug selling. I was living life on a dull knife's edge, trading one high for another, but no matter what I did, I never succeeded in fucking, snorting, smoking, or shooting the pain away. It was just part of who I was, baggage that always would travel with me, and I finally accepted it. I was alone, and when I was thinking clearly, I hoped with all of my heart that you weren't as alone as I was. Knowing you were happy would've given me enough happiness to make my day, but I never found out.

My roommate told me of a terrible crash on the freeway as she was coming home one night, and the next day I'd heard that two people died in it. The day after that, I found out that one of the dead was you. I didn't cry, and at first I wasn't even stunned- maybe that most selfish part of me knew that I'd already made you dead to me long ago, just as a way of coping.

I bought a black dress and vowed that be at your funeral, but as I approached the group assembled around your grave, I couldn't bear to move closer. I could see your wife surrounded by all of your family, many that I'd spent time with so long ago; I was a different person now. Would they even recognize me now, and if so, would I be welcome? I stood and watched from far away, then turned to leave.

Since that day, I've tried a dozen times to go to see you, never once getting even as far as my front door. I'm so sorry and embarrassed that I haven't, and that I'm not doing any of those things in life that you always told me I was capable of. You would be so disappointed if you knew, and when I allow myself to think about these things, the fact that I still haven't followed what makes me happy breaks my heart almost as much as you being gone in the first place. No matter how many other men there are, I'll never forget what you felt like when we were together. You made me happy, but even when you were around, I couldn't find a way to follow you, either.

So, today was going to be the day that I saw you again, but I just can't do it. Last night left me in a fog, and I'm still not thinking straight. I'm sore, I'm run down, and in no shape to look the way you deserve to see me, especially since it's been so long. I still have your favorite shirt of mine, and I'll be sure and wear it when I come, but I can't find it right now anyway. I'll look again tomorrow, I promise.

One thing is for certain, when you get this letter, laid right where you are and next to my very first painting, you'll know I finally got the courage to see you. I wish things had been different for both of us, but I'll never regret who you are to me, even now. You're helpless to do anything for me, but you're always with me. You always have been, and you always will be.

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